Blog of Rights

New National AIDS Strategy Will Address Discrimination Against Those Living with HIV/AIDS

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:04pm
The Obama administration will unveil a first of its kind national AIDS strategy on Tuesday, which took 15 months of work to complete. In a preview in Monday’s New York Times(which has obtained an advance copy of the national strategy), the administration plans to focus most intensively on reducing the number of new annual HIV infections, which currently stands at roughly 56,000, as well as increasing the number of people receiving care and treatment.

Standing Up for Trafficking Victims

By Suzanne Ito, ACLU at 2:29pm

Yesterday, Change.org's Amanda Koer published an interview with the ACLU's Brigitte Amiri about our lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

A: Why do you think it is important…

In Alabama and South Carolina, Separate and Unequal

By Suzanne Ito, ACLU at 11:30am

Last month, we blogged about the state of Mississippi's decision to stop segregating prisoners with HIV from the rest of the prison population.

Today, the ACLU and Human Rights Watch released a new report that focuses on Alabama and South…

Keeping the Courthouse Doors Open to Protect Reproductive Health Care and Religious Liberty

By Brigitte Amiri, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project at 3:48pm

(Originally posted at ACSblog.)

Last week, a federal district court in Massachusetts ruled that an ACLU challenge to the government's use of taxpayer dollars to impose religious doctrine on victims of human trafficking may go forward.…

Human Trafficking Is Modern-Day Slavery

By Suzanne Ito, ACLU at 6:09pm

Today is the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, said in a statement today:

The scourge of modern slavery, including human trafficking,…

A Victorious Step Toward Ensuring Reproductive Health Care for Trafficking Victims

By Brigitte Amiri, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project at 11:27am

On Monday, a federal district court in Massachusetts ruled that an ACLU challenge to the government's use of taxpayer dollars to impose religious doctrine on victims of human trafficking may go forward. The decision is a victory for women's health…

World AIDS Day 2009: ACLU AIDS Lawyer Talks Advocacy

World AIDS Day 2009: ACLU AIDS Lawyer Talks Advocacy

By Anna Mumford, LGBT Project at 3:08pm

In commemoration of World AIDS Day, ACLU attorney Rose Saxe agreed to sit down for a quick interview to discuss the AIDS Project’s litigation and advocacy work.

Founded in 1986, the AIDS Project at the ACLU has worked to fight discrimination…

People With HIV are "Dangerous As Rattlesnakes"

By Suzanne Ito, ACLU at 5:21pm

Last night, Salon.com featured an op-ed by Rachel Maddow (Yes! That Rachel Maddow!) and Margaret Winter, Associate Director at the ACLU's National Prison Project (NPP). Maddow worked for NPP from 2002 to 2004, and still covers issues of discrimination…

ACLU Advocates for HIV+ Air Force Vet Denied Baggage Screening Job

By Anna Mumford, LGBT Project at 4:18pm

Today the ACLU filed an appeal to the decision by the Transportation Security Administration’s to disqualify Air Force Veteran Michael Lamarre from qualifying for a baggage screening job because he has HIV.

Click on the video below to…

House Vote on Syringe Exchange Programs a Victory for Public Health

Last week, Congress took an important step in the fight against HIV/AIDS with a historic vote on syringe exchange programs. On July 25, the House voted to remove the ban on providing federal funding for syringe exchange programs.

Since 1988, the federal government has prohibited states from using their share of HIV/AIDS prevention money in syringe exchange programs, one of the most effective programs available to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic, as well as Hepatitis C and other blood-borne illnesses. This policy was based on ideology rather than on evidence, and the repeal of this ban signifies that Congress is finally realizing that needle exchange programs are a safe and effective approach in reducing the public health problems associated with drugs.

Syringe exchange programs allow intravenous drug users to obtain hypodermic needles and associated injection equipment at little or no cost, and most of these services allow drug users to exchange used, dirty needles for new ones. They also often provide other public health services, such as HIV and Hepatitis C testing and access to substance abuse counseling. Numerous federally funded studies have shown that needle exchanges slow the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C and that they do not increase substance abuse. This scientific evidence has been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), National Institute of Health (NIH), World Health Organization (WHO), and the American Medical Association, among others. See the CDC’s Report here (PDF) confirming that needle exchange programs are helpful not only in reducing the spread of HIV and AIDS, but also as a way to get intravenous drug users into healthcare programs and to treatment that helps to get them off drugs.

Syringe exchanges are cost-effective and life saving programs. Each year,nearly 8,000 people in the US contract HIV/AIDS,and about 12,000 contract Hepatitis C,directly or indirectly from sharing contaminated syringes.The cost of preventing one case of HIV infection through syringe exchange programs is approximately $4,000 to $12,000, and yields savings of as much as $648,000 in medical costs per HIV infection and approximately $25,000 to $30,000 in medical costs per Hepatitis C infection prevented. Allowing states to use federal funding for these programs will help decrease the spread of these diseases.